A walking holiday can be good for your body, mind and soul. Inntravel’s Steve Jack explains how…
‘All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking,’ concluded Friedrich Nietzsche, and who am I to argue with the great 19th-century German philosopher?
After all, walking is not only a terrific, free form of exercise, but an undeniably great way to oil those cogs in the brain – a natural aid to contemplation that requires little more than a stout pair of boots or shoes and a modicum of healthy determination. So, if you’re dithering over a dilemma, confused by a conundrum or spooked by a sticky situation, why not treat yourself to a self-guided walking holiday and see where your mind takes you?
‘Why self-guided?’, you may ask. Well, although some more remote and challenging walking destinations might arguably be better tackled as part of a small group, at Inntravel we firmly believe that the self-guided approach, whereby you set out with detailed and carefully compiled route notes and a map, is the very best way to slow down and appreciate the world around you. With no groups to hold – or hurry! – you up, and no luggage to weigh you down (your bags are transferred from one charming hotel to the next), you really are free to go at your own pace.
The joys of walking are nothing new, of course. ‘Walking is man’s best medicine,’ proclaimed Greek philosopher Hippocrates, way back in the 4th century BC. And as well as providing various, well-documented physical benefits – regular walking can help reduce the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke – it can also have a profound effect on your mental and spiritual wellbeing.
How can this be? Well, a good walk allows us to fall into step with our body’s natural rhythms. We begin to tune in to our surroundings – and also to ourselves. Everyday worries seem to disappear, as we relax into a relatively uninhibited state of mind where our thoughts can roam free.
I would also argue that the uplifting effects of walking are in direct proportion to the time spent in nature, and the beauty around us; so if you can spin this out over several days at a time, in somewhere particularly attractive, then so much the better. Time appears to slow down as you start to pay attention to the little things, and your day-to-day routine becomes both comforting and absorbing: get out of bed; throw open the curtains to check the latest weather conditions; then enjoy a tasty breakfast before heading out on well-made paths where your mind is as free to wander as your feet.
Steve Jack is Communications Manager for Inntravel – the Slow Holiday people – who offer over 100 self-guided walking routes throughout the unspoiled corners of Europe and beyond. To find out more, call 01653 617000 or visit inntravel.co.uk.